Thursday, September 27, 2007

Red man

It amused me (perhaps rather too much) to contribute to NonWorking Monkey's Traffic Light People yesterday.

I would urge all reasonable, discerning people to immediately rush to their nearest street crossing and photograph their traffic light people for her delectation.

Scary certainty

I had a conversation with someone who believes she is psychic.

A wardrobe gave her bad feelings and she came to the conclusion that it was made from wood from a tree that had been used as gallows. She seemed very sincere in her belief and convinced she "knew" it to be true. She certainly sounds very authoritative, and I can see how one might get swept along, but then I think "Hold the phone - where is there anything but her personal internal experience?" You can't trace back the wood, you haven't even got the evil wardrobe, so it's totally founded on what she says she feels.

I can't trust blindly in someone else's personal experience. Is that all you've got?!

You "know" there's a supernatural, I "know" there's not. He says, she says, mahna mahna mahnum. My personal experience is that there are natural explanations for lots of things. (Eg. auras? Ever had a migraine? Etc etc). If that's all there is, if it's all point of view, then I will stick to my own: that where there is a natural explanation, it is far more likely than that there is a supernatural force at work. (Ghostly footsteps in the attic? You need a plumber, my friend. Door slams? Shut the bathroom window. Heheh). The supernatural explanation is generally surplus to requirements.

She claims her psychic ability is accompanied by a stomach flip and mental images. I got the sense that she felt her physical response strengthened her case. Of course, I only have her word for it that she feels this as well, so it's still all internal personal experience.

Now the last day or so, I've been thinking about sudden stomach churning (and apart from plenty of sprouts), there are lots of ways to induce them. It helps if you're of a nervous disposition! I can make my own stomach flip by thinking about past emotions, future possibilities, and notably, when I'm stressed about various things, it will also flip when I am not consciously thinking about whatever issues I have. This is somewhat annoying, but interesting.

I can get the free-fall stomach feeling when ostensibly thinking about something else that shouldn't cause me anxiety. I don't think I'm a particularly unusual sort of person, so I imagine that anyone can do the same. I can also work myself up into palpitations - now that's what I call fun!

You can build an expectation and response in yourself, you can train your body. Perhaps while honing her abilities, "tuning in", she trained herself. I'm not saying it's a deliberate deception/self-deception, because it's not as black-and-white as that. And this is where I struggle with wording... It reminds me of the flawed CS Lewis trilemma argument, you may or may not be familiar with. Liar, lord or lunatic it goes: Jesus was deliberately lying about himself, he was telling the truth or he was mad. One of the flaws in the argument is that it only works if those are the only possibilities, and they are not. There are other possibilities, such as the one which relates to the point I am slowly getting to, honest, which is 'just wrong, sincere but wrong'. Ie. it is possible to genuinely believe something and yet still be mistaken about it. You don't have to be mad to be mistaken.

What I'm trying to say is that I do think that she genuinely believes she is psychic, but at the same time, her certainty does not make me agree she is psychic. I don't think she's mad or stupid either.

Anyway, where's the harm, you may be thinking? So what if someone thinks a wardrobe is sinister...

I'd agree if it ended there, but what I found particularly disturbing is that she claimed to have met someone and through one of her psychic moments, concluded that this person was abusing her position as a carer for old people. Now we all make snap judgements about people and can take instant dislikes, but if we don't have the certainty of "psychic ability", we're not going to broadcast our gut reactions (usually). If we did have that 'certainty', however, what harm could we do a complete stranger's reputation?

Monday, September 24, 2007


Today some papers arrived that I had been grumpily thinking about last night.


Except the other myriad times they didn't turn up when I'd been thinking about them grumpily in the night kind of outweighs the one time they did.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Little things...

Flicking through channels last night we came across a show called My Penis and Everyone Else's. This provided, in the 10 seconds we had it on, a laugh in the fact that "some men will go to extreme lengths", according to the interviewee as he put aside an ominous-looking contraption.

Heh heh, and another in my choice of title for this post.

Oh yes, even ten seconds of that show was a positive juggernaut of opportunities for juvenile sniggering on my part.

On the radio news, there was also a presenter arguing that the prices paid to farmers are, er, poultry...

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Sabotage/Camouflage it's all the same to me

This song was in my mind this morning, but I thought it was "Sabotage" rather than "Camouflage". The latter makes more sense in the context of the song, of course, if not in real life.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Doddery rodent

The hamster, who has featured before in this post is making squeaking noises a lot. Now this is unusual in such a beast, they usually only squeak when scared or enraged, but he seems to have developed a mumbling squeak to himself and grumbles round the cage doing it.

It could be old age and in his dotage he has begun to talk to himself. "Pesky sawdust getting in between my toes, significantly annoying sunflower seeds that I have to crack open myself, at my age. In my day tunnels were only horizontal, but look at the angle on this, etc etc..."

Maybe I should take him to the vet.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Ich bin a blogger

As I blog, all its links, instructions et al appear entirely in English as I construct the fabulous, erudite posts, which form the base material of my bloggage. Ha ha.

That is up until the point I publish my inane ramblings (which also form the base material of my bloggage) and then, a curious glitch, it goes all German on me: "Blog anzeigen (in einem neuen Fenster)" it gloats in guttural tones.

Bit like a beloved friend when she's drunk.

Woods for the trees

For the first time *** has acknowledged her husband is an alcoholic, and I think it was a revelation to her. It actually shocked me to realise that she didn't realise.

It seems blindingly obvious from the outside.

But I'm not sure what difference it makes, other than giving her another thing to worry about, as he is still so far in denial, he's up to his neck in crocodiles. Perhaps ignorance is bliss.

Friday, September 14, 2007


A meme-y thing via Primitive People (from Felinebird).

1. Go to
2. Put in Username: nycareers, Password: landmark.
3. Take their "Career Matchmaker" questions.
4. Post the results.

1. Cartoonist / Comic Illustrator
2. Fashion Designer
3. Writer
4. Political Aide
5. Activist
6. Print Journalist
7. Market Research Analyst
8. Medical Illustrator
9. Translator
10. Desktop Publisher
11. Graphic Designer
12. Artist
13. Communications Specialist
14. Public Policy Analyst
15. Criminologist
16. Critic
17. Anthropologist
18. Horticulturist
19. Zookeeper
20. Historian
21. Taxidermist
22. Sign Maker
23. Animal Caretaker
24. Horse Trainer
25. Computer Trainer
26. Animal Trainer
27. Pet Groomer
28. Nursery / Greenhouse Grower
29. Stock Clerk
30. Housekeeper
31. Auto Detailer
32. Aquaculturist
33. Fruit and Vegetable Grower
34. Painter
35. Picture Framer
36. Furniture Finisher
37. Professional Athlete
38. Archivist
39. Upholsterer
40. Veterinarian

The taxidermist one is a bit of a surprise... Er no.

And quite a few require some actual talent, I'd have thought. Still, it was interesting.

Moscow State Circus

On Monday we went to see the circus and it was brilliant. I was moved to take lots of out-of-focus and blurry photos: no flash as I didn't want to be responsible for the sudden death of trapeze artists and the like. Cover her face, mine eyes dazzle! She died young... [/Duchess of Malfi]

The children really enjoyed it. The first set of acrobats began their act on a huge swing, and when the first flew off it into the air, T gave a gasp, thinking the man had fallen off accidentally, I think. S absolutely loved it, especially the clowns and trapeze.

The adults really enjoyed it too: me and my mother-in-law.

Sunday, September 09, 2007


It's been a bit of a surprise to hear that one of M's siblings is getting a divorce. And I'm sad about it, even though I don't know them very well. Of course it's the children, of similar ages to my own, that I feel for most. It sounds like it's going to be very acrimonious as well, with threats about withholding access already.

And in very bad-taste, at least that's the one in three marriages, I suppose. Not that statistics work that way.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

A v-neck

The Littlewoods adverts that feature Trinny and Susannah are set in some James Bond style guerilla/smugglers camps.

I wonder what that's saying about the ethical side of their products - yes, so good we stole them from illegal exporters who no doubt used slave labour and are buying plutonium with the profits... heh heh.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

I believe in hell...

it is the pre-school shop.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Book Recommendations

I have an Amazon wishlist to which I usually add books I hear good things about (or classics that I feel I ought to have read). I intend to read them all at some point, however, I rarely actually look at the list or remember the books when out and about. I deliberately avoid going on Amazon if truth be told, in case I start spending money. So I thought that this is a safe (as in cheap!) place to record them and hopefully keep them in mind more.

There is also the faint hope that any visitors to this blog may wish to recommend a book to me in comments on this post, so knock yourselves out!

Mistakes were made (but not by me) (Carol Tavris & Elliot Aronson) Recommended to everyone (not me particularly!) by Greta C
Wide Sargasso Sea (Jean Rhys)
Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
Les Miserables (Hugo)
The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
Non Serviam (Stanislav Lem)
Cultural Amnesia (Clive James)
Earth Song Native Tongue 3: Native Tongue 2 (Elgin)
Contact (Carl Sagan)
Why People Believe Weird Things (Michael Shermer & Stephen Jay Gould)
Voyages Through Time: In the Beginning (Peter Ackroyd)
The Illuminatus!: Trilogy (Robert Shea & Robert Anton Wilson)
The Blind Watchmaker (Richard Dawkins)
Foucault's Pendulum (Umberto Eco)
Sophie's Choice (Styron)
All Fun and Games Till Somebody Loses an Eye (Christopher Brookmyre)